Dumb Questions for Smart Designers with Shogo Ota

Shogo Ota is the epitome of the American dream. He moved from Japan to the United States 14 years ago to study art at the University of Idaho, without speaking a lick of English. He is now killing it in Seattle, designing posters for bands, identities for businesses, and he is the man behind last year’s controversial green Starbucks cup.

Shogo Ota loves to work on brand systems, logo design, event posters & materials, brochures, product packaging and more. Custom illustration on snowboards? Of course, he can do that. His studio, Tireman Studio, is a small design studio focusing on unique, fun and professional looks for a multitude of businesses. He has been called a stylistic chameleon, because he really studies what clients need and pushes himself to make something new every time.

Q. What do you order at Starbucks? Do you use the term grande or medium?

More than 90% of the time, I order a 12oz Americano with room for cream. I’m still not used to the size system at Starbucks so I always say 12oz.

Shogo Ota's design for green Starbucks cup

Q. Last power tool you used?

Chainsaw. I live on the island in WA so I’ve been trimming a lot of trees in my front & back yard.

Q. Favorite kids book to read?

Unko, a Japanese kids bookIt’s called “Unko” which means poop in Japanese. I read this to my 2 year old kid to teach the importance of pooping in a potty.

Q. One thing very few people know about you?

I can control myself in my dreams.

Q. Favorite Seattle band that most people wouldn’t know or think of?

Shogo Ota poster design for ThunderpussyThey are getting big but “Thunderpussy” is one my favorite Seattle-based bands. They also happen to be my awesome friends. I’ve been making their posters, T-shirts, a patch etc. and most recently their first 7” vinyl, “Velvet Noose”. Mike McCready from Pearl Jam played on one of their songs.

Q. What is one thing Idaho and Japan have in common?

Japan (Hokkaido) produces a lot of potatoes.

Q. Where’s your happy place?

The art store. I get more excited to check out new stuff and tools. Also, the mountains. Biking (downhill, cyclocross), snowboarding, camping and it is always more fun with friends and family.

Q. Are you a tired man today?

Shogo Ota's Tireman StudioI don’t get tired so often and I think that’s good for running one’s own studio.

Q. Green beans or collard greens?

I had to search online what collard greens is, so I think I like green beans better.

Q. Last time you cut your hair short?

I guess I cut it short in 2012. It might be time to cut it again.

Q. Favorite poster on your wall?

Without a doubt, The Clash.